* The governor appeared before the Crain’s Chicago Business editorial board today…
But Rauner’s list of things he wants to get done in a second term—“my last term,” he said—sounded very much like the things he pursued in his first term. Included: legislative term limits and a legislative reapportionment system that takes remap out of the hands of existing lawmakers; more extensive changes in the workers compensation system to help Illinois manufacturers in particular; “flexibility” for local school districts on things such as contracting and labor contracts; removing health care as a mandatory bargaining issue for state unions, allowing the state to impose terms unilaterally.
Rauner conceded that the current state budget has a structural deficit of an estimated $1 billion to $2 billion. And he said the state badly needs a new capital program to fund road, bridge, transit and other construction around the state, something that would have to be paid for.
How would he do that?
Rauner said he’d save $500 million a year in health insurance costs that state workers unions so far have resisted. He wants pension reform, but said the idea of amending the Illinois Constitution to reduce such benefits likely is a political and legal non-starter. Doing that would stimulate the state’s economy and boost revenues, he said.
The governor rejected the argument that the 3-year state budget standoff proved that fiscal stability even with a higher tax rate is better than stalemate. “Boiling slowly to death is still death,” he said. If Pritzker’s plans to adopt a graduated income tax is implemented, “A lot of your readers will say, ‘we’re gone.’”
He was asked “Isn’t there a value to fiscal stability?” And he answered with the boiling to death comment.
Also, big capital construction bills require bonding and that requires a funding source. And bonding at any sort of decent rate will probably require a specific revenue source, given the state’s credit rating.
* With that in mind, Rauner said this at a different venue…
Nobody ever said that better credit ratings would solve “all” our problems. Regardless of what he says, fiscal stability has to be a goal.
Also, solving “structural problems” to him has always been about “right to work,” eliminating the prevailing wage, etc. But this ain’t Scott Walker’s Wisconsin. Focus on the things you can fix or you won’t change anything. That should’ve been the most important lesson learned during the past four years.
For instance, instead of punting to the General Assembly about what AFSCME can and can’t negotiate in their contracts, just negotiate incremental changes yourself. He took the hardest of hardest lines and got absolutely nowhere. It’s the entire story of his term.
* He also complained to Crain’s about the media not understanding him. For a guy polling so poorly, he should focus on his own job and stop telling others how to do theirs.
The full interview is here.